Nigeria: The Many Faces of Modern Slavery

The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates at least 12.3 million adults and children are caught in forced labour, bonded labour and commercial sexual servitude at any given time. Of these, 1.39 million are victims of sex trafficking, most being women and children.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has said although sexual abuse was suffered mainly by women and girls, women accounted for the majority of traffickers in almost a third of the 155 countries surveyed .About 79 percent of human trafficking involved sex slavery while 18 percent covered forced or bonded labour, forced marriages and organ removal.

In a dimension reminiscent of the Trans Atlantic slave trade of the fifteenth to nineteenth century, Nigerian children are trafficked not only to the western world, but to neighbouring African countries like Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Mali and Burkina Faso to work on cocoa and banana plantations or illegal mines. An average of 100 children pass through the Nigeria’s border towns of Seme ,in Lagos state, Gamboron Ngella in Borno State, Illela in Sokoto state, Shaki in Oyo state and through the creeks of Calabar, Oron amongst others, everyday to serve as domestic servants or labourers on the farms of Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Morocco etc.

While some socio cultural practices in the Northern part of the country such as Kano and Yola, facilitate trafficking of children to Sudan , Mali, Saudi Arabia and Asian countries. Child victims of trafficking are often exploited for commercial sex, including prostitution, pornography and sex tourism. They are also exploited for labour, including domestic servitude, migrant farming, landscaping and hotel or restaurant work – to name just a few potential trafficking situations.

Child trafficking in Nigeria has taken on new proportions with recent police raids revealing the existence of maternity clinics allegedly breeding babies for sale, dubbed baby ‘farms’ or ‘factories’ in the local media.

The Trafficking in persons has been identified as a global health risk, which fuels the growth of organized crime. Besides the physical and emotional torture to which the victims are subjected , they are often deprived of their dignity, with their psyche brutalized.

Human trafficking can be defined as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, or abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments of benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.

Research has it that thousands of victims trafficked across national borders suffer sexual /physical abuse and death threats against themselves and family members. Thousands of others are also trafficked internally from rural communities to urban centres for domestic labour, work in farm plantations, stone quarries, and as waiters or call girls in hotels. The perpetrators of this heinous crime target mostly women and children from rural communities.

A 19 year old girl decided to interrupt her engineering studies to accept a newspaper classified job advertisement offer with a multinational company based in Germany. Believing she had found a great opportunity, she responded but found herself working as a slave in a quarry mine in Romania, from where it took her three years to escape .

Another boy in one of the Western states, who has been looking for job a long time, saw an advert for a job in the hospitality industry in Europe. He applied for the job which had so many attractive offers including no need for any academic qualification, except being able to speak English as there will be in house training for the successful applicant in Europe, very attractive pay, and of course transport to Europe free of charge within a short notice of interview. His travel documents were immediately seized on arrival by the traffickers, and he ended up on a rice farm in Germany as a labourer making returns for his owners.

Nigeria having about 140 million inhabitants is the most populous country in Africa -but most Nigerians are poor. On average they have to get along on less than one dollar a day.

No wonder then that many young people dream of the chance to earn money in Europe.

But most cannot afford to pay for the cost of travel. That is where the human traffickers come in. Their search for vulnerable young women leads them to villages, where the people are especially poor and desperate. In this country as in most developing countries, the problems has been worsened by widespread poverty and greed.

According to Barrister Simon Chuzi Egede, the executive secretary of NAPTIP, Poverty is still the primary factor sustaining human trafficking in Nigeria. “The rural areas suffer the hardest with parents and families taking great risks in attempt to escape their deplorable state of poverty. Consequently, human trafficking and child abuse have assumed monstrous dimensions as parents are willing to let go of their children from labour or even expose these children themselves. Young men are willing to follow traffickers with false expectations of a better life elsewhere and many young women engage in commercial sex despite the risks involved. ”

Human trafficking carries high prices for its victims and some are not lucky to live and tell their stories.

In the words of Ezelekhai, a 17 year old recently rescued victim, she was recruited by one man in her home town who then introduced her to one Anita. Anita took her to a juju man to administer the oaths of secrecy, to ensure her loyalty and bondage to her. Mrs Anita later sold her to one Miss Comfort who equally sold her to one Maduka who is regarded as the connection man. He placed her in Abare (connection house) in Libya and roundly introduced her into prostitution. Maduka, a Nigeria living in Libya, usually negotiates with male customers who paid certain amounts of monies to him, before the victims are allowed to entertain the customers. She was meeting an average of 6 customers daily with each paying at least 10 dinnars (about N1000) The journey to Libya started from Benin City to Kano and then to Agades and Dorokwu, both in Niger Republic. The victim who is five months pregnant discovered she was pregnant in Dorokwu shortly after they left Benin City, but this did not however stop her being further sexually exploited. Miss Anita tried various means to abort the baby including giving her a drink of an injection inside a glass mixed with hot drinks and kicking her stomach forcefully. The victim has started a rehabilitation and reintegration process.

Grace’s story is that of another trafficked victim. Grace before her ordeal, lived with her parents in one of the remote villages in southern Nigeria . She has just finished secondary school. A rich and popular lady called Aunty Tina who claims to be an international business woman comes home from time to time, and goes back to the city with different girls with the promise of finding them jobs in her many business outlets, in and outside the country. This year, in particular, having finished secondary school and with her parents so poor, Grace wanted a means to contribute to the family upkeep and go to school. It didn’t take Grace and her parents time to be convinced by Aunty Tina to follow her to Lagos, especially as she showered them with money and gifts. On getting to Lagos, Aunty Tina told her she was to travel to Rome and she couldn’t believe her luck. Her problems started when on getting to Rome, she met other agents in Aunty Tina’s trafficking network. She was forced into full time prostitution and had to sleep with an average of 15 men a day, to meet with the debt Aunty Tina incurred on her. She was put under lock and key most of the time, and for each letter she tried to write home ,the agents intercepted and ensured she never communicated with her people even via phone. After sometime, she contracted the HIV/AIDS Virus and Aunty Tina facilitated her deportation to Nigeria with nothing. According to her, she had to beg her way from the airport to her village to meet her devastated parents who have given her up for dead, after not hearing from her for five years. Instead of the dollars they had hoped she will be sending them , she came back to them half dead and as an invalid needing care.

A particular trafficker from Niger who had been on the most wanted trafficker list before he was arrested in Kano this year, has been wanted for trafficking over one hundred Nigerian girls from Edo state in batches, many of whom perished in Algeria last year ,igniting a serious man hunt for him. This man has contacts in many countries and has traffickers under him whom he has trained on how to settle border operatives for easy passage and movement of victims from Nigeria to Niger Republic.

Or is it the stories of ladies promised marriage either on the Internet, by cartels who claim they arrange wives for Nigerians in Diaspora and promise the girls wealthy and kind husbands abroad ,only for the girls to fall prey and end up in exploitative labour ? The stories and modalities of human trafficking are as many as the victims themselves.

Trafficking carries physical and mental consequences for its victims. For child victims of exploitation, the destructive effects can create a number of long-term health problems:

This week , the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP) is marking the National Anti Human trafficking awareness week. So many people are still oblivious of the modus operandi of the traffickers despite the horrendous travails of its victims .This agency was set up as government intervention strategy against trafficking .

According to Barrister Simon Chuzi Egede, the Executive Secretary of the agency, “NAPTIP was established as a direct institutional response to the high incidences of human trafficking , child labour and abuse in the country .”

Or is it the stories of ladies promised marriage either on the Internet, by cartels who claim they arrange wives for Nigerians in Diaspora and promise the girls wealthy and kind husbands abroad ,only for the girls to fall prey and end up in exploitative labour ? The stories and modalities of human trafficking are as many as the victims themselves.

Trafficking carries physical and mental consequences for its victims. For child victims of exploitation, the destructive effects can create a number of long-term health problems:

This week , the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP) is marking the National Anti Human trafficking awareness week. So many people are still oblivious of the modus operandi of the traffickers despite the horrendous travails of its victims .This agency was set up as government intervention strategy against trafficking .

According to Barrister Simon Chuzi Egede, the Executive Secretary of the agency, “NAPTIP was established as a direct institutional response to the high incidences of human trafficking , child labour and abuse in the country .”

source:http://allafrica.com/stories/200912030315.html?page=2

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Published in: on December 3, 2009 at 9:30 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. Just found this blog, some good content here, i will come back and check more often for more info..


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